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Robert Blair
Art & Nature, Published By Metropolitan Museum of Art
Burchfield - Penny Art Center - The Watercolor Tradition In Western New York
The Watercolor Tradition In Western New York Continued)
Vermont Life Magazine
Watercolor Magic Magazine

Robert Noel Blair - A View From The Outside

An exhibition of previously unseen paintings by Robert Noel Blair will be shown at Eclectic Art & Objects Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania starting October 14, 2005. Included in the exhibition are many of the artist's earliest works dating from 1931 through 1949. They are among the paintings that Blair felt were his best and the paintings that inspired their use as reference for many of his later works. These important watercolors were part of the artist's personal collection that remained in his barn studio until his death in 2003.

"A View From The Outside" provides a rare time capsule of the lifestyles and workstyles in post depression America including the farmlands of Vermont, the rail yards and ship yards of Buffalo, and life in the streets of New York and Chicago. It was during this period in 1940, when Blair was only 27 years old, that the Metropolitan Museum purchased "Horses in the Rain" for their permanent collection and 1946 when he won the first of two prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship awards for creative painting. It was a time when Robert Blair was experimenting with drip, splatter, and smear techniques that would later become known as action painting as personified through Pollack and DeKooning.

Artist's Statement (1949)
"Momentous occasions in my artistic career began early, at the age of five (1917). I became enthralled with ways of developing the ink blot. Soon after this I was influenced by methods of design and simplification as practiced by the Japanese woodblock artists. These and other methods such as smearing ink with my hands as well as throwing and blowing it, were preoccupations, along with the uses of brushes and other tools.

Making my own paints became essential in the 1930's. When at work with larger easel paintings, I began using paint by the pound as well as the tube. One of these early oil paintings had three pounds of paint on the canvas. Some of the tools of application were 6" to 1' wide and were essential to the style developing, leaving marks like footprints on the sand.

The tension between the extremes of precision and total freedom seemed to be essential to motivation. Freedom of expression does not preclude control...such as control of the blot in watercolor into a meaningful relationship with the design. Natural shapes, colors, and tonal variations are not easy to come by. I aim for motion and emotion in my painting. From the cave man through El Greco to Goya, art was motivated by these ingredients, either subconsciously or consciously".

Blair was always searching for personal perfection in his paintings and in his unorthodox watercolor techniques that are apparent in this collection of early watercolor masterpieces. Don't miss the opportunity to see "The View From The Outside" a collection of the earliest works of an American art treasure, Robert Noel Blair.

Robert N. Blair, (American 1912-2003) Robert Blair studied at the Albright Art School in Buffalo New York and from 1931 to 1934 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Although Blair worked in a variety of media, his vigorous and sometimes tempestuous watercolors are the basis for his national reputation. They are sensitive, fresh, and make an effective use of color in a seemingly effortless use of the brush. In searching out the romance in reality, his work ranges from expressionistic interpretations to near abstracts. His special love of horses is reflected in a number of works, one of which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1934 Blair met renowned watercolorist Charles Burchfield who was immediately impressed with the fluidity of the young artist's watercolors. Through their mutual admiration they became lifelong friends and on several occasions even traded paintings. Blair's watercolors have been exhibited widely in both in the United States and Europe, has won many prestigious awards, and was honored with over fifty one-man shows in his lifetime.

His work is represented in many museums and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute of Utica, the Bryn Mawr Art Association, the Debuque Art Association, Colgate University, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Collection of Marine Paintings. The Ford Motor Company owns ten of his paintings. He painted a large mural for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1947. Robert Blair is listed in the 33rd Biennial Edition of Who's Who in America. His work has been the subject of articles in Art News, Art Digest, Plein Air Magazine, and the New York Times. He received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1946 and 1951.

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Eclectic Art & Object Gallery
8275 Ohio River Blvd.
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15202
(412) 734-2099